Screening and referral for children with physical disabilities

Andrew G. Georgiadis, Pam Thomason, Kate Willoughby, H. Kerr Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The clinical care of children with physical disabilities is a major priority for paediatricians and paediatric orthopaedic surgeons. Cerebral palsy (CP) is the prototypical condition and remains the most common cause of physical disability in developed countries. The incidence is approximately 2 per 1000 live births, translating to between 600 and 700 new children per annum in Australia, with approximately 34 000 children and adults currently living with CP. This figure is predicted to rise inexorably over the next 20 years. The care of children with physical disabilities, including those with CP, is usually coordinated by paediatricians, general practitioners and allied health teams including physiotherapists, with input from paediatric orthopaedic surgeons when appropriate. The emphasis in care for children with CP has moved from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’. In the past, children are often referred when symptomatic, for example when a hip dislocation had occurred and became painful. The emphasis now is on coordinated, multidisciplinary care in which musculoskeletal manifestations of disability are identified by screening programmes. Systematic screening, especially when population-based and linked to a register, avoids children getting ‘lost in the system’. Early and more effective interventions may be offered for the prevention of contractures, dislocation of the hip and spinal deformities. In this review, we will focus on the assessment of gait in children with physical disabilities, and monitoring for hip and spine deformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1117
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians)


  • children
  • physical disabilities
  • referral
  • screening

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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